Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dipsea run (when you can) - Mill Valley to Stinson Beach

I am officially one week behind.  :( 
I had a very busy week at work and then when I get home at night (about 7:30pm-8pm), I watch Brooklyn.  It is hard enough to get my runs in; I'm falling behind writing about them.

Last weekend Sat. (1/23/2010), we ran the Dipsea trail from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.  Our goal was to generally follow the route of Dipsea Race.  The Dipsea Race is the second oldest race in the USA, behind the Boston Marathon. We planned to run the "Double Dipsea", which is an out and back version of the race.  The trail climbs up from Mill Valley, over the top of the hills, through Muir Woods and down into Stinson Beach.
Here is a Dipsea Race course description:  It begins in downtown Mill Valley with a sprint down Throckmorton to the Old Mill Park, then up three flights of stairs as tall as a fifty-story building, and up some more through an old horse ranch to Windy Gap. Then it plunges down into Muir Woods across Redwood Creek and begins a tough grind up through the trees over trails named "Dynamite" and "Cardiac." At the top of Cardiac, the course levels out before it plunges down through the "Swoop", over the rocks and roots of "Steep Ravine" and the discouragingly steep climb up "Insult Hill." Finally, as the course follows the relatively gentle slope of The Moors toward the ocean, Stinson Beach is in sight a mile ahead.

We met at 6am at a park and ride spot in the Silicon Vally to head up to Mill Valley.  We arrived in Mill Valley a little after 7am for the run.  Here are pictures, along with my thoughts on our route.

It was raining most of the week and was raining when we arrived, but we were all very excited to run this historic route.  One of us had run the route before, but not in a while, so it took us a little while to find the stairs.  Three flights of stairs to start off.  Hundreds of stairs throughout the trail (over 600).  Here is a picture looking back down of one of the sets of stairs.

This is the last flights of stairs.  We made our way up. These were nicer and more modern.  The rain made the stairs difficult to run; unless you wanted to risk falling back down.

When we got to the top of the stairs, we had good views to enjoy:

After the top of the stairs you have to run on the street for about a 1/2 a mile or so until you get the Dipsea trail:

This part of the trail is open with some hills to climb.

You do run close to houses and the street - that will change.  However, before we could get away from civilization we had to cross a street and get back on the trail.  After crossing the street we came across this sign: 

Oh no!  We were only about 2 miles in!

We had a map and knew that we could follow the street and hope to connect to the trail. We did not know if we would be able to get back on the trail (whether it would be open) but it was worth a shot.  And, it worked!  We were able to get back on the Dipsea!  Yet, after another mile or so, we came to another sign that the bridge was flooded.  And, it sure was.

Even though the bridge was out, there was a fire road which we could use (about 3/4 a mile away) that got us back to the trail .  The fire road and dipsea trail were very steep as we went up, up, up and over hills.  On the other side of the hills, you had to go down to get to the beach.  There were hundreds of stairs, which were unrunnable.  The trail thought was very nice.  Great views. My one complaint is that I wish there were not as many unrunnable parts (due to the rain the stairs were very slippery).

The fire road:

The Trail:

Trail blocked off:

Going over a hill:

A real great run to the beach:

Getting closer to the beach:

We made it to the beach:

Then, we turned around and headed back.  We were going to take a different trial back.  Got a nice rainbow:

Here are some of the many stairs:
And, we got to climb a ladder on our return trip (another trial):
Great views heading back:

We took the ben johnson trail to Mur Woods.  The Ben Johnson trail was very runnable.  Mur Woods had a lot of people so the last mile (through Mur Woods) was a bit of a pain (weaving around people).

After Muir Woods we were still about 2-3 miles away.  We got back to the Dipsea trail, took some streets and finally the stairs:

Overall, it took 17.05 miles to complete (some added miles due to the dipsea trail being closed).  It was a great run. Well worth it.  I wish there were less unrunnable parts on the way out (maybe, that was because of the rain).  Yet, I'm very glad I did it and highly recommend it.  Maybe, one day I will even do that actual race.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Hi Tim,
I loved the pictures! I felt like I was running with you:) Great recap of your run too. It looks like so much fun running with freinds:) Wow, it is beautiful out there. I have been to both the Muir Woods and Stinson Beach...great time and wonderful memories:) I enjoyed your post tonight Tim! Thanks for sharing!!